Last edited 28 Sep 2015

OGC gateway review 1

The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) has now been absorbed into the Efficiency and Reform Group (ERG) within the Cabinet Office.

When it existed, the OGC produced a great deal of guidance about best practice in procurement and project management. This OGC guidance has now been archived, however, it is still cited in the new Government Construction Strategy and the revised Common Minimum Standards (to become the 'Construction Standards') and links are still provided from government websites such as the Major Projects Authority. The OGC gateway review process still provides one of the best and most comprehensive sets of guidance for public projects. It is for this reason that the project plan for public projects within Designing Buildings Wiki follows the OGC gateway review process. See Public project: outline work plan.

The procurement routes preferred by the Government Construction Strategy and described by the OGC gateway review process are private finance initiative (PFI), prime contracting and design and build (see OGC Achieving Excellence Guide 6:Procurement and contract strategies). The Government Construction Strategy states that traditional procurement routes that separate design from construction should not be used unless it can be demonstrated that they offer better value for money.

The three preferred routes involve appointing a single integrated supply team (including designers, contractors, suppliers and perhaps facilities managers) after the project brief has been prepared, before design commences. This means that the main decision to invest (i.e. to appoint the integrated supply team), takes place before any designs have been prepared.

The OGC Gateway Review process offers a structure for projects following these procurement routes, based around a series of independent peer reviews carried out at key stages to verify that projects should be allowed to progress to the next stage.

These peer reviews, or 'gateway reviews' are commissioned on a confidential basis by the Senior Responsible Owner:

There are also two additional decision points specific to building projects:

In practice, some of the design work leading up to these decision points is likely to be carried out during the tender process (or bidding process on PFI projects).

OGC gateway review 1: business justification, takes place at the end of the feasibility studies stage, once the business case for the preferred option has been developed. The review focuses on...

'...the project’s business justification prior to the key decision on approval for development proposal.

r'ef' OGC Introduction to procurement gateway 1.

According to OGC, gateway review 1 should...

  • Confirm that the Business Case is robust – that is, in principle it meets business need, is affordable, achievable, with appropriate options explored and likely to achieve value for money
  • Confirm that appropriate expert advice has been obtained as necessary to identify and/or analyse potential options
  • Establish that the feasibility study has been completed satisfactorily and that there is a preferred way forward, developed in dialogue with the market where appropriate (NB on construction projects, feasibility studies will take place prior to OGC gateway 2 ref Achieving Excellence Guide 3 - Project Procurement Lifecycle).
  • Confirm that the market’s likely interest has been considered
  • Ensure that there is internal and external authority, if required, and support for the project
  • Ensure that the major risks have been identified and outline risk management plans have been developed
  • Establish that the project is likely to deliver its business goals and that it supports wider business change, where applicable
  • Confirm that the scope and requirements specifications are realistic, clear and unambiguous
  • Ensure that the full scale, intended outcomes, timescales and impact of relevant external issues have been considered
  • Ensure that the desired benefits have been clearly identified at a high level, together with measures of success and a measurement approach
  • Ensure that there are plans for the next stage
  • Confirm planning assumptions and that the Project Team can deliver the next stage
  • Confirm that overarching and internal business and technical strategies have been taken into account
  • Establish that quality plans for the project and its deliverables are in place
  • Confirm that the project is still aligned with the objectives and deliverables of the programme and/or the organisational business strategy to which it contributes, if appropriate
  • Evaluation of actions taken to implement recommendations made in any earlier assessment of deliverability.

ref OGC Introduction to procurement gateway 1.

On construction projects, specific tasks that should be undertaken prior to gateway review 1 include:

  • Approve project brief and funding in principle. (NB we describe this as the strategic brief, the project brief will be preapred prior to OGC gateway 2 Achieving Excellence Guide 3 - Project Procurement Lifecycle).
  • Carry out a VM (value management) study to investigate in more detail and evaluate options to meet business needs. Such options may include non-project or 'prior options' and Private Finance Initiative. Confirm that a project is required. Risk management to identify risks with each option and updating of risk register.
  • Investment appraisal followed by approval for project to proceed, following principles set out in HM Treasury's Green Book.
  • Set out business needs as identified by VM study. Describe objectives of project and alternative options to meet them. For each option set out base estimate, carry out risk analysis and calculate allowances for identified risks, all on a whole-life cost basis, including treatment of the asset at the end of the contract. Ensure that the optimum lifespan for the facility is part of the business case. Update risk register.
  • Use base estimate and total risk allowance (based on average risk estimate) to set the budget for the project. Consider funding strategy – capital and whole-life/revenue costs.
  • Ensure objectives reflect business needs, risks are identified and are reflected in estimate.
  • Confirm project is affordable.
  • Confirm availability of budget and likelihood of meeting business need.

ref OGC gateway process review 1: business justification P10 and 11.


For a detailed description of the sequence of tasks necessary on public projects, see the work plan available from Designing Buildings Wiki: Public project: outline work plan. Gateway review 1 takes place at the end of the work stage: Public project: business justification.

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